Activists from 21 different countries attended the long march held to protest against the captivity of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who has been imprisoned in solitary confinement in İmrali island, Turkey, since 1999.
The march, attended by over 150 activists from internationalist groups, started in Frankfurt on 6 February and the demonstrators marched 160 km to Strasbourg. The event, held for the sixth time this year, brought together the members of various political groups from Catalonia, the Basque country, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Scotland, England, Morocco, Denmark, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, USA, the Netherlands, China, Ireland, Armenia and Ukraine.
Some of the activists spoke to Yeni Özgür Politika and explained why they took part in the march and what Öcalan means to them.
From the USA to join the march
Mei Zhang (26) is a Chinese-American whose family emigrated to the USA years ago. She grew up in Seattle in Washington. She is active in trades unions and works to get the people of the USA to recognise and support the people’s solidarity in Rojava and the call for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan. She is attending the march from Frankfurt to Saarbrücken with two of her friends.
“I am inspired by the philosophy of Öcalan”
She sees it essential to support the march for Öcalan’s freedom as she and her friends in the USA are very much inspired by Öcalan’s ideas. Mei Zhang says, “Although the internationalists’ long march of is under the motto, ‘Freedom for Öcalan’, people from different cultures and nationalities can share ideas here too. People get a chance to recognise each other’s solidarity. In this sense there is a lot for internationalists to learn from this march. I think the internationalists should thank the Kurdish freedom movement for organising such an event.”
“I will keep on walking with the Kurdish People”
Mei Zhang states that as a feminist and an activist she is very much inspired by Kurdish women’s solidarity. She adds: “Our leader Mao, who led the Chinese revolution, also did important things for women. But Öcalan’s ideas and works are very different. Öcalan says that women’s freedom is the people’s freedom. As a woman I respect the significance accorded to women by Öcalan and the Kurdish people’s movement. I thank the Kurdish people for this opportunity. I have had a chance to get to know Kurdish people much better during this march. From now on I will keep on walking with the Kurdish people.’’
“We are grateful to Öcalan”
Marco Rovigo (27) is attending the march from Italy. Marco explains that he got to know Kurdish people because of the Rojava revolution and that he especially researched the Kurdish movement during that time. He went to Afrin for three months in 2019 to experience Rojava. There he had a chance to get to know the Kurdish people. He explains that he knows Kurdish people as warm, friendly and wronged. He states that he is really impressed by the atmosphere of the long march held for Freedom for Öcalan.
“It creates a great atmosphere when people from different cultures get together in a different region and in a different culture for a righteous cause, and walk together for a week. I am grateful to the dear great Öcalan for creating this opportunity. I read some of his books to learn his ideas before coming here. After coming here I once again realised what influence Öcalan has.”
“Let’s make colonialists shiver!”
Yasmina El-Taouai (23), who is attending the march from Morocco, states that Öcalan has been unjustly detained for 23 years, and that she is attending the march to protest against Öcalan’s 23-year long wrongful imprisonment.
She adds: “Such demonstrations are so important for the freedom of dear Öcalan and the Kurdish People. No one can close their ears to so many people coming together from all over the world and crying out, ‘Freedom for Öcalan!’ I believe as we cry out here today, we are making the colonialists shiver in their shoes. That’s why they tried so hard to prevent us from gathering here today. But they failed miserably against our solidarity.’
“We take Kurdish women as role-models’’
El-Taouai states that the Amazigh people have long been fighting for their freedom, just like the Kurds.
“In this context Amazigh people are the people who understand the Kurdish struggle for freedom the best. We share the same destiny. We need to became partners in our fight as the people of two different nations. I see that recently many young people of Amazigh are going to the mountains of Kurdistan for solidarity and to improve themselves. The Amazigh people have a lot to learn from the Kurdish freedom movement and Kurdish women’s movement. We especially take Kurdish women as role-models from the point of view of organising.”
She adds: “The louder we cry out our demands, the more our enemies will be frightened. The louder we cry out, the sooner Öcalan will achieve his freedom.”